The 42-inch 42LM660T is the first new 2012 model from LG I've had in for review. The sets in this year's line-up will be looking to make up ground lost to its intense rival Samsung, which is now the biggest TV manufacturer in the world.
Priced at around £1,150, let's see what it has to offer.
User interface and EPG
LG has once again given its user interface an overhaul. Its previous incarnation was one of the better ones out there, but this update puts it to shame with even slicker graphics with some impressive 3D effects. For example, the main home screen now shows three large panels across the top. These are populated with icons for the premium apps, videos from LG's online 3D Zone streaming service and thumbnails of videos that you've shared to the TV across a network from your computer, using DLNA or the Plex software. As you switch between them they swoop by with a nice 3D-style panning effect.
Similarly, when you go to switch inputs, the TV shows you a banner across the bottom of the screen, with large and detailed icons so you can see exactly which one you're choosing. The input list also now includes network devices, so you can select your networked PC as a source and then browse the videos contained on it, which is neat.
There are a couple of downsides, however. Although the electronic programme guide (EPG) has been upgraded to make the layout clearer, it lacks a video thumbnail window. When you call it up, you lose all video and sound from the channel you were watching.
Also, the menu system has so many options it can be daunting for the first-time user, especially as there are sometimes multiple ways of performing the same function. For example, apps can be accessed by pressing the Apps button on the remote, by selecting them on a banner at the bottom of the home screen, by entering the Premium menu from the home screen or through the app store. Phew.
On the whole though, once you get used to some of the quirks of navigating around the various menus, it's quite quick and pleasant to use.
Digital media and Internet features
This TV is nothing if not packed with online and networking features. It has LG's Smart TV platform onboard, so you get access to services like BBC iPlayer, Facebook and the Acetrax movie rental service. LG told me that Netflix and Lovefilm apps will be available by the end of the month. The apps are split into what LG terms 'Premium services', including iPlayer and Twitter, and the more general app store. In the latter, you'll find less essential offerings, such as apps for Star Magazine and movie reviews from The Daily Express, along with a host of simple games.
There really is boatloads of content here and although not all of it is worth downloading, there are enough quality services to place LG's platform near the front of the smart TV pack.
The TV does an excellent job streaming your own content from a desktop PC, laptop or NAS drive. On last year's TVs, you were forced to use the buggy Plex media streaming software on your PC. This model has both a Plex client built in and a standard DLNA mode, so if your NAS drive only has DLNA support, you can still stream videos, photos and music from it without needing to have a PC turned on. Format support was excellent too, especially on the video side. It played a whole host of files flawlessly, including HD MKV videos.
Design and connections
I've seen pretty much all the new TV designs for 2012 at various events. LG stood out during those previews. Seeing the 42LM660T at home for this review, nothing has changed. The set is an absolute stunner.
It's gobsmacking to see how LG has slimmed down the bezel. When the TV's turned off there's just a minuscule silver band visible, which runs around the outer edge of the display and is less than a millimetre thick. Switch the set on and you can see that there's actually a 1cm black bezel, but it's seamlessly integrated with the panel so it hardly spoils the overall effect. Also, because the set doesn't have a built-in camera, as some of the Samsung models do, there's no bulge at the top breaking up the clean lines.
I also really love the stand. It is very similar to the one Samsung has used on the UE55ES8000, which makes me think that both of these companies do the corporate equivalent of peering over the garden fence. But it's black rather than silver and I prefer its slightly more angular styling. As the main support struts are hidden behind the TV's chassis, at times it makes the panel look like it's floating on air.
If there is a fault in the design it's that the four side-mounted HDMI ports are a little too close to the left-hand edge of the set. If you don't bend your HDMI cables slightly, you'll see them overhanging the side of the TV. Aside from this gripe, connectivity options are spot on. There are three USB ports on the side-mounted panel. The rear panel offers a VGA input, as well as mini-jack plugs for component and composite ports that use short break-out cables. Naturally, as this set is a Smart TV, there's an Ethernet slot too, and LG has sensibly built in Wi-Fi.